A digital echo of a missing friend

I have paused my work to record a moment of my social media day. It’s one of those moments where technology, data (or the lack of it) and commercial imperatives combine to create an unintended jarring moment.

Over a desk picnic, I was endorsing friends and colleagues on LinkedIn. I am happy to do this and do think it has (modest) value. Faces from the recent and distant past slid across the screen and I clicked or passed on the skills and experience they may or may not have. I like these occasional moments. It encourages me to mentally reconnect with my working past and people I have worked with.

Then a clang and a sigh. The next face to fill the space is long time friend, sometimes colleague and mentor. This is someone who has been instrumental in my understanding of my work, my career and my sense of value. One of those rare and valuable individuals. It is also someone who has recently died.

When I saw his face I experienced two immediately juxtaposed visceral reactions. Firstly, a sad moment. One of those moments of considering that someone has gone. A loss. Then I had a sense of frustration that a whole series of digital identities are out there with little reflection of the recent radical news. It was one of those moments where technology is revealed as a dumb brute. The algorithm turned and produced a really poor piece of data.

Sigh again.

I realise this is a very complex problem to solve It is, by now, an old problem to solve and there are start-ups and projects afoot to tackle our digital legacies. I don’t have an answer. Just a sense of a great deal of progress still to be made for products and services to deal with the most inevitable of needs.


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